For someone who never grew up eating meatloaf, I sure have made up for lost time. I can’t help it – a well-cooked recipe using ground meat is just so satisfying to me (as much as I love lean & vegetarian proteins, there’s something about a fat, medium-rare burger that can’t be beat). So when I found yet another meatloaf recipe in Rachael Ray’s cookbook, this time in the form of muffins, I knew it was only a matter of time before I made it. Then, the wheels started turning, and my train of thought went a little something like this: it’s almost a law that you make some form of mashed potato to serve alongside meatloaf àmashed potatoes have a similar consistency to a buttercream frosting àI’m already making the meat loaves in
muffin cupcake pans à….
…and in that moment, these Meatloaf “Cupcakes” were born (but if it weirds you out too much to use “meatloaf” and “cupcake” in the same sentence, you can call them Meatloaf Muffins or Miniature Meatloaves; they’ll still taste fabulous). I wasn’t done tampering yet, though: I played with the meat loaf recipe; I took her recipe for Smashed Potatoes and Cream Cheese and turned it into dairy-free mashed cauliflower instead, because it just sounded way better; and I took a third Rachael Ray recipe, this one for sautéed veggies (intended for steak) and plopped them on as a cupcake “garnish.” It was all very cupcake wars, let me tell you. I was killing it.
The end result was the juiciest, most tender portion of meat you’ll likely ever come across, sweet from the barbeque sauce (choose one without high fructose corn syrup!) and almost addictive. The vegetables add a much-needed pop of color. The whole meal is surprisingly filling, and utterly satisfying. Even if you’ve up until now declared yourself a meatloaf hater, as long as you eat red meat then you’ll go crazy for this recipe.
My one word of caution: these are alarmingly liquidy, and will fall apart if you aren’t super careful removing them from the pan. However, I have no intention of modifying the recipe to contain less juice because, I mean, come on! They were just too good to mess with. Too, too good.
Meatloaf Cupcakes with Mashed Cauliflower Frosting & Sauteed Vegetable Garnish
These “cupcakes” are just fun, that’s all there is to it! Plus, they’re some of the most flavorful, tender foods I’ve ever tasted. Make them in mini-form for a crowd-wowing appetizer, or bake them in the standard cups for a family meal.
Yield: 4-6 servings
Active Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
The Ingredients: Meat Loaves
1 small yellow onion, quartered.
½ large green bell pepper, stems & seeds removed, chunked
1 large egg, beaten
½ cup panko bread crumbs
½ tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
½ cup sweet (HFCS-free) barbecue sauce
¼ cup tomato salsa
1 tablespoon (HFCS-free) Worcestershire sauce
1 pound (grass-fed)ground beef1
The Ingredients: Mashed Cauliflower
1 head cauliflower, broken into florets
¼ – ⅓ cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tablespoon butter or non-hydrogenated spread2
7 chives, minced
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes
The Ingredients: Sauteed Vegetables
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound large white mushrooms, sliced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
½ large red onion, sliced
4 cups spinach
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat your oven to 450˚ Fahrenheit and lightly grease a muffin tin; set aside.
Place the onion and bell pepper pieces for the meat loaf in a food processor and pulse to finely chop. Transfer the vegetables to a mixing bowl along with the egg and remaining ingredients. Stir to combine, then use your (clean) hands to mix in the ground beef. Divide the meat mixture evenly amongst the muffin wells, making approximately 1 dozen “cupcakes.” Place in the preheated oven to bake for approximately 15 minutes.
While the meat loaf cupcakes cook, place the cauliflower florets on the stove to steam until tender, approximately 2 minutes. Transfer to the food processor and pulse until it resembles cous-cous, 3-5 minutes. Stream in the almond milk and puree to the desired consistency, approximating mashed potatoes. Mix in the butter/spread, chives, and nutritional yeast, and set aside.
Add the mushrooms and remaining olive oil to a sauté pan set over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms have started to brown and soften. Add the remaining vegetables and black pepper, and continue to cook over medium heat until tender and slightly brown, lowering the heat as necessary to keep warm while you finish the recipe (you can add the spinach in particular at the last minute to let it wilt slightly without getting cooked to death).
Meanwhile, remove the meat loaf cupcakes from the oven and carefully – very carefully (I used two sets of tongs contorted to support all 4 sides of the cupcake) – transfer to a lined and/or lightly greased baking sheet. Change the oven settings from bake to broil and move a rack to the top of the oven. Place one ice cream scoop worth of mashed cauliflower on top of each cupcake and place under the broiler to heat and brown, 3-5 minutes. Serve topped or alongside the sautéed vegetables.
Nutrition Information (per cupcake): 168 calories. 8.5g fat (2.5g saturated). 41mg cholesterol. 202mg sodium. 13.5g carbohydrate (2.5g fiber, 6g sugar). 10.5g protein.
1The only ground grass-fed beef I can ever seem to get my hands on is 80-20; this is not particularly lean and if you have the option for 90-10, that would be better. Since I eat red meat so infrequently, I don’t stress too much as I’d rather have fattier grass-fed meat than leaner corn-fed beef, but choose what works best for your lifestyle.
Also be sure to check out my slowly-coming-together recipe archive! I’ve been wanting to redo it for a while, and as I go back through my recipes and add nutrition information, I’ve started the process. The appetizer section is done and I’m hoping to finish the beverages today or tomorrow. What do you think? It’s not as a fancy as I could do with my own domain, I’m sure, but I’m excited to be cleaning up the blog on Blogger until I’m able to afford my own web space.